Mural painters headed to eastern Illinois town
ARCOLA (AP) – The eastern Illinois town of Arcola is about to have several permanent reminders of its past, thanks to a series of murals planned by a band of traveling painters.
The traveling mural painters known as The Walldogs will come to town June 20-24 and paint 14 murals. Most will have local themes that are reminders of the town’s past – such as Raggedy Ann and Andy creator John Barton Gruelle, who is from Arcola, and local World War II hero Joe Ernst – and old traditions that live on, such as the local Broom Corn Festival. Arcola is about 30 miles south of Champaign.
Nancy Bennett of Centerville, Iowa, started the Walldogs. She told The (Decatur) Herald & Review that the group picks only one town a year to work in. Once the painters are in town, they work fast.
“It pretty much transforms the town in a matter of days,” she said.
The group stopped in Danville on the Indiana state line two summers ago and left behind a series of murals that celebrated that town’s history.
Bennett named the Walldogs for advertising painters of the early 1900s. The term was once considered derogatory.
Most of the artists who will come to Arcola from around the Midwest and beyond work for free, but the project still needs money for paint and other supplies. The murals will cost roughly $60,000 to produce. A grant and fundraising events have provided money.
City Administrator Bill Wagoner said local residents are excited about the project.
“(The Walldogs) are very passionate about what they do,” he said. “They enjoy painting the murals and sharing their art with people. The enthusiasm that they have for their painting and for their work is infectious.”